*I’m warning y’all up front – if you’re epileptic or have adverse reactions to very quick flashes of light or abrupt cuts in videos, you might wanna stay away from all the video embeds in here. Also, a minor content warning for grotesque body horror, medical clips, and… just various types of meats, sentient and otherwise.*
As I sit down and stare at this blank, white screen I’m supposed to fill with words to describe Melted Bodies, I doubt my ability to. It’s the same feeling I had when I went to write the review for their new album, Enjoy Yourself, but now I have the added restriction of not repeating myself. What even can I say that I haven’t already? What hope do I have to encapsulate them adequately, especially in a way that convinces you, the reader, to dive deep into their art just as I have? I don’t know, but they’re more than worth the effort so we’re gonna try, and give the band tons of space to speak on their own behalf! Funny concept, huh?
As it stands, and given quick gun-to-head thought, I’m very confident in saying that Enjoy Yourself is very nearly my album of the year so far, at least when it comes to heavier persuasions of music. Ever since hearing it in early October, I’ve taken advantage of all the art and videos released, yearning to better understand the themes behind it and what makes the band tick. Of course, there’s no better way to find that out than to ask them and I did just that, with Melted Bodies reciprocating in a way that made this one of my favorite Weekly Featured Artist pieces ever to do.
Made up of four pals that came together through mutuals, Andy (vocals and guitar), Scott (drums), Houda (bass), and Ben (keyboards and programming) united through a common goal of getting really weird with their art some years ago. Andy reflects on those humble beginnings, ‘I had a few demos/song ideas that I was working through and naturally came into contact with rest of band through mutual friends. I’m still surprised by how easy it was to find three other talented musicians who wanted to dedicate time to creating what we do.‘
When faced with the name Melted Bodies, I get an unnerving image of a mass of flesh – once solid, then liquid, then mostly solid again – amalgamated together, writhing on the floor with appendages protruding out from it, eyes floating on the surface of the skin and moving about. Think John Carpenter‘s The Thing, though not quite as deadly… I think? Turns out, this is the kind of imagery that Andy was going for, but with a more functional end to its means as well:
‘I already had the name Melted Bodies floating around with some previous artwork. I actually wanted to call that previous project Melted Bodies but it just couldn’t stick because it was me solo. When we got the band solidified it just made sense to call it Melted Bodies. The significance or meaning behind it will always be evolving, but for me it works both for the visuals that come to mind when you hear it and because our work is the gradual blending or combining of divergent bodies of work into one mass or collection. I love that we can take this project in any direction we want as I wouldn’t have it any other way.‘
Los Angeles is the best place I could think of for such a band to be founded in. Here’s a city in a region of the country that has much of the human spectrum of experiences within its limits, including some of the world’s most opulent and elite people and subcultures. I can only imagine the influence it wreaks upon a project like this, so I asked them how a project like Enjoy Yourself even comes to be. Andy entertained the question with some behind-the-scenes details:
‘For the most part, on the writing side I would come to the table with a song structured out and then we would all rehearse and feel things out. See how the parts felt together and adjust, rearrange or in some cases just throw the song out. The production was a lot of learning as we went along because we did all the recording on our own. Everything was done just in our little black box of a rehearsal room in LA, mostly on the weekends and weekday evenings, putting in time whenever people were available. In short it was a bunch of SM58s, SM57s, a cheap audio interface and my laptop with Logic. The mixing and mastering was handled by John Spiker who was great to work with. Mixing and mastering were two areas we knew we needed help with and [it] was very nice after being so engulfed in the writing and recording to have a set of fresh ears.’
The result is a biting mass of music that toes the line between hyperbolic eccentricity and social commentary long built up from years of seething in the face of silencing indifference. Sonically, it’s nearly impossible to peg them down – many have compared them to System of a Down, Mr. Bungle, and other wildly energetic and broad genre nukers. All I can say to comparisons like that is: yes. To all of them and more, sure, but it’s important to recognize them for who they are: themselves. That spirit is embodied in their existence and is just part of what they hope to instill upon those brave enough to swan dive into their vivid and flaying universe.
Though, at first, I made the mistake of assuming Melted Bodies are ‘just’ musicians, missing the artistic forest for the trees. There’s a lot more to them than that – it simply only begins with the music as you’ll soon learn. First, let’s delve into some songs I didn’t have the time to get into in my review. Not one to shy away from provocation, the band has some wild-ass titles like “Eat Cops” and “The Abbot Kinney Pedophiles”. The latter of which Andy explains in a more autobiographical way than I anticipated:
‘This song is about a day I had a while back walking along Abbot Kinney Blvd which is a bougie road of shops in Venice Beach/Southern California. I found it so odd seeing these families where the parents are dressing their young toddlers in expensive fashion label clothing making them look like 19yr old westside spoiled hipsters. It grossed me out and so I decided to write a song about it.’
Distilled through Melted Bodies‘ fantastical world where anything seemingly goes, the song is unlike the others on the album. Most of the vocals are more spoken word than anything else, showing a fictionalized account of Andy’s adventure into the elite stratum, where everything is fake and anything can be bought. The second verse is a stream of consciousness deluge of run-ons and reactions:
‘So I jumped into my car, I turned the key over, and I started to feel a little bit guilty because my car wasn’t an electric car, it wasn’t a hybrid car, in fact, it was just a shitty car. But I wanted to get something nice for my sister, it was her birthday. I decided I would take a trip to Abbot Kinney Boulevard. I jumped out of my car, looked to my left, there was a child with a facelift, and to my right was a man with a five hundred dollar pair of sunglasses, and I knew what had to be done.’
If the last part was a little unclear as far as intent, later there’s a cheery yelping of ‘slit the throats of the rich and spoiled!‘ tucked between more growled variations of the line. It’s moments like this that show the diversity of Andy’s vocals, which range anywhere from convincing devilish spite to Jello Biafra brand falsetto, all sandwiched between guitar licks as catchy as they are rocket-propelled amp burners, sprinting basslines, and morphing drums able to conjure any pace to a song’s mood or, frankly, moods.
“Eat Cops” on the other hand could easily be read as a similar takedown, a reaction to increasing and ceaseless violence perpetrated by the state against mostly minority population, but nope! ‘Actually wrote this a couple years before all this horror really came under the spotlight and [I’m] thankful this issue is finally getting the attention it deserves,‘ Andy says. ‘The song revolves around a young female cannibal who comes across a house party full of cops who are all partaking in debaucherous hypermasculinity. The cops invite her inside unbeknown she is about to eat them all.‘
Elsewhere, Melted Bodies‘ cartoonish candor is applied to very real things, like our insidious insurance and health care system that stands to profit off of our medical suffering, pre-existing conditions not being covered, being told you’re not sick enough, and much more. “Funny Commercials (And the Five Week Migraine)” is a party cannon aimed right in that direction with acerbic lyrics, sing-songy tones, and a whiplash-inducing tone(s) that would sound disjointed as hell were it not for the band’s masterful performance and writing.
‘Call in your claim to me
Are you hurt? Then hold please
Oh, I’m so sorry to hear your story
There’s a price to pay…
‘Here we come to save the day
Take your cash, deny your claim
You’ve got no choice, we’re here to stay!’
The most chilling aspect isn’t even the lyrics, it’s the delivery which ranges from gleeful and spirited to sinister and fiendish, as if some of the lyrics were gritted through the most evil, apathetic Cheshire grins possible. Anyone that’s heard the words ‘the help you need is out of network‘ will uncomfortably sympathize, and trust me, there’s no fucking quite like getting fucked by that Aflac duck.
That’s the grotesque beauty of Enjoy Yourself. It takes the for-profit, perverse, hypocritical hellscape we awaken into each day and marks it for the absolute circus it is. Melted Bodies are just the ringmasters, pulling the curtain back on the cages packed from iron grate to grate with manmade atrocity to gawk and mock, shifting the power dynamics even on the most minute of scales which bring forth knowing nods and supportive coos from those who know what it is to live in a post-industrial, pre-societal collapse world. If we’re all going to go down, we might as well go down laughing hysterically at the absurdity of how we managed to get here, but it didn’t happen overnight.
At the release of the album, Andy posted a note on the band’s Instagram stories that was quite sobering:
‘To write, rehearse, record, create, promote and release an album is a lot of work. It’s a second job clocking long hours in the evenings, sacrificing sleep, weekends and relationships. It’s finding motivation not through money, but simply out of the love to create something like this with some of the most genuine people I know. To ‘Enjoy Yourself’ has always been a chore for me as someone who has dealt with anxiety and depression. Feeling consistently misunderstood or isolated is commonplace. The irony is that through lots of self-work and learning to be much more open about these kinds of thoughts, I’ve connected with so many others that deal with very similar feelings. It’s quite the opposite of isolation. Being depressed, feeling helplessness, or self-deprecating is very common, especially now.’
It goes on to admonish toxic positivity that is so ingrained in our culture, rejecting all forms of negativity and turning down any and all opportunities to address personal issues or problems in order to project a faux happiness so as not to disturb or bring down those around you. I’m paraphrasing at this point, but only because it’s a feeling I know very well as someone else that deals with mild depression and anxiety. They’re topics covered to great, earnest effect in songs like “Club Anxious” and “Helplessness”. Andy’s words are well worth reading on your own, suffice it to say he, and by proxy the band, champions the uniqueness in us all and beseeches us to have our opinions and feel our genuine feelings unabated. Enjoy Yourself is indeed about enjoying yourself, in spite of all the things that get in the way. On the meaning of this statement overall, Andy explains:
‘I think it was important to communicate that there is a lot of thought and sincerity behind the songs we created. I will always deal with depression and anxiety so I’ve found it healthy to simply be open and upfront about it. It took me a long time to get to that place because of the stigma that surrounds mental health. I think a lot of the songs on Enjoy Yourself are simply that… embracing the chaos that often lives in my brain and presenting it through song.’
Since dropping the album in September, we’ve been treated to lots of art released in conjunction with it, mostly via IG stories, utilizing original or altered graphics that often blur the line between reality and uncanny valley body horror. It all culminated in their newly released “Acid Drop Halloween” special, the title of which is part descriptive measure and part instructive request as I’m sure the experience is catapulted into a new level of reverence and interaction with drugs. Tread at your own risk – even sober, the visuals whelm more than adequately and I have a loving eye for material like this.
You don’t have to dig too deep to see this in action though – just look at the damn cover of the album. ‘I’ve used raw meat in a lot of Melted Bodies work,‘ says Andy. ‘I’ve always found it appealing visually as a medium. It’s taking something that is now commonplace and found in most homes, grocery stores, restaurants etc. and shifting someone’s perspective when presenting it in a slightly different way.‘ Confirming my suspicions, the meat sculpture on the cover is in fact real, not a digital work of art, and it was made with a few different types of raw meat, panty hose, rubber bands, a foam head presumably for the base, and some nifty LED light. All photographed in Andy’s apartment. I hope he put some paper down first.
Going back to the videos, none of which are what you would call normal or standard, the medium has proven to be excellent in giving Melted Bodies‘ work a new dimension of sensory hell to wade through, but, you know, in a good way. Scott, the band’s de facto video editor, sheds some light on the visual messes he deploys for the band’s elusive, painfully dynamic music:
‘We have such a, uh, colorful sound, with a lot of personality. So I started scraping the internet for free stock videos in an effort to reflect the world back through this form of grotesque mundanity. It felt like the best place to start. We have a similar approach to our live visuals. And it’s amazing what you can find online. It’s amazing how the world of stock imagery represents the reality it tries to mimic. I started editing as a kid cutting together anime music videos (which is actually how I got into metal as well), so I tend to like a lot of visual stimulation and frenetic cuts.’
The “Halloween Acid Drop” and “Ad People” videos especially are bullishly eclectic and overclock the mind if you try to decipher as you go, but there’s usually a stray shot or short clip of members of the band themselves to latch onto for an island of comfort in the chaos. Much like the music itself, it doesn’t much care for tradition or any tome of rules that could be followed for a dull, hollow victory which is why they chop their music up in the videos, add searing noise, distort it beyond recognition, reorder sections to disorient, and so much more. It’s a way to identify the band beyond their signature, alien sound – a greasy, smeared fingerprint if you will. Scott elaborates:
‘As for the conceptual approach, we just get so bored with the traditional fare. Pandemic actually helped us lean into our approach of generating these experiences rather than some glamourized shots of us playing our instruments. We like to think of the live experience as its own thing, with its own energy, and we don’t want that diluted. The music video doesn’t have to necessarily be just a music video. It’s always been meant to serve as a promotional calling card. So we try to do something different.‘
As grim of a future we collectively have, it looks relatively bright for Melted Bodies. They’re already working on new music with their urge to create musically and visually lasting as long as the pandemic does. To whet the appetite, Scott indulges by saying, ‘There’s only so many interests and influences you can fit into one song, or album. We still have a lot of ideas we want to explore that simply could not fit on our first record.‘ Touring is definitely a longer term goal once possible – makes sense since the live show is but another facet of the band’s creative process, and something I hope to experience sometime this… decade.
Even at the end of this admittedly exhaustive article, I feel like I’m just hitting my stride. Here’s a band that came out of nowhere for me that I could, quite literally, talk about for hours on end, and they’ve only released one album! This is the stuff that legends are made out of, and even if Melted Bodies remain an artistic institution curdling in the cracks of the LA underground, they’re one that I’m always going to be extremely thankful for. I’m simultaneously inspired, coddled, frightened, validated, broken down, and built back up by the stuff they create, and an experience like that is just about one in a million. These are the types of bands you cherish for years and years to come. Like the band’s intent with their art, I hope you can listen and it makes you feel. Moreover, I hope you like it like I do.
To wrap up, Scott offers one more glance into the future with the band’s final word, and a project shoutout to boot:
‘Remixes. I’ve been tinkering with tracks, which have popped up in the videos as of late. Expect to see some releases. Some our own originals, some with collaborators. I’ll also be releasing some stuff soon through my Death Scott Fitzgerald project.’
Melted Bodies are…
Andy – vocals, guitar
Scott – drums
Ben – keys, programming
Houda – bass
If you got the stomach for it, you’d best follow the band on Instagram (seriously, it’s a marvel of gross fun), Facebook, and Twitter. You can check out Enjoy Yourself on Bandcamp, and keep an eye out on their YouTube channel for more undefinable vignettes like the ones here.
Fuck me, fuck you.